Two more dolphins wash ashore on New Jersey beaches

     Dolphins swimming off Cape May on July 18, 2013. (Photo: Marc Benton via Flickr)

    Dolphins swimming off Cape May on July 18, 2013. (Photo: Marc Benton via Flickr)

    Two dolphins washed ashore on New Jersey beaches Saturday, The Press of Atlantic City reports.

    The dolphins were found in Sea Girt and Brigantine, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

    68 dolphins have been recovered since July.

    Another dead dolphin was seen floating off Manasquan Saturday evening, Tom Weatherall tells Jersey Shore Hurricane News.

    Weatherall was on his paddleboard about 400 yards from the beach when he spotted birds and fish feeding on the carcass.

    Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Robert Schoelkopf recently spoke with Jersey Shore Hurricane News and NewsWorks about why he thinks the deaths are occurring, offering a stern warning to not enter the ocean to help any dolphins.

    In Ocean City earlier this month, a shark took a bite out of a dying dolphin struggling in knee-deep water, Schoelkopf said.

    “We were lucky because just before the dolphin appeared, we had a severe lighting storm and lifeguards blew their whistles to get people out of the water,” he said. “Someone in the crowd wading in the water could have been bitten.”

    Understanding the danger, responders do not enter the water to recover sea life. Instead, they wait for the animal to wash ashore, Schoelkopf said.

    Some of the dolphins have tested positive for morbillivirus, a naturally occurring virus in dolphin populations, according to Schoelkopf.

    “Dolphins swim close together in pods. Diseases spread between animals when they surface to breathe,” Schoelkopf said in a July 2013 N.J. Department of Environmental Protection release. “There is no evidence that the deaths we are seeing this summer are in any way related to water quality.”

    Over 150 dolphins have been recovered at beaches between New York and Virginia since July.

    Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have declared the deaths an “unusual mortality event” and are investigating, officials say.

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